Surfactant Protein B Deficiency Induced High Surface Tension: Relationship between Alveolar Micromechanics, Alveolar Fluid Properties and Alveolar Epithelial Cell Injury.
High surface tension at the alveolar air-liquid interface is a typical feature of acute and chronic lung injury. However, the manner in which high surface tension contributes to lung injury is not well understood. This study investigated the relationship between abnormal alveolar micromechanics, alveolar epithelial injury, intra-alveolar fluid properties and remodeling in the conditional surfactant protein B (SP-B) knockout mouse model. Measurements of pulmonary mechanics, broncho-alveolar lavage fluid (BAL), and design-based stereology were performed as a function of time of SP-B deficiency. After one day of SP-B deficiency the volume of alveolar fluid V(alvfluid,par) as well as BAL protein and albumin levels were normal while the surface area of injured alveolar epithelium S(AEinjure,sep) was significantly increased. Alveoli and alveolar surface area could be recruited by increasing the air inflation pressure. Quasi-static pressure-volume loops were characterized by an increased hysteresis while the inspiratory capacity was reduced. After 3 days, an increase in V(alvfluid,par) as well as BAL protein and albumin levels were linked with a failure of both alveolar recruitment and airway pressure-dependent redistribution of alveolar fluid. Over time, V(alvfluid,par) increased exponentially with S(AEinjure,sep). In conclusion, high surface tension induces alveolar epithelial injury prior to edema formation. After passing a threshold, epithelial injury results in vascular leakage and exponential accumulation of alveolar fluid critically hampering alveolar recruitability.